This morning at the 11worth cafe I got to have breakfast with Garrett, one of the most encouraging people I know in Omaha. Garrett has been working with Release Ministries in Omaha for a number of years. Release works with teens in prison, and helps them as they transition out of prison by having group homes which give oversight and direction to them outside of jail.
A lot of us don’t know anyone in jail personally, and the idea of our kid going to jail seems pretty distant to many. But Garrett works with families and kids for which this is a fairly regular occurance. They try to break the cycle of incarceration and hopelessness, and they have some wonderful stories– and some very depressing ones as well. The reality of evil and brokenness of the world becomes more apparent when you are working first hand with teenagers who often come from broken homes in disfunctional neighborhoods.
Release does three things primarily: organize volunteers to go into jails to meet with teens. Garrett told me this morning that they have plenty of opportunities, but not enough volunteers. I plan to do it when we return from Milwaukee full time in the spring. Its once a week, with a one-year commitment. Garrett says its easy for them to get 8-12 kids to want to come do a bible study etc, and the informal mentoring is very beneficial.
Second, they line up mentoring for kids who come out of prison. Again, its a once-a-week commitment to get together with these teens to give them a stable friend and mentor to talk with and get respect from.
Third, they have group homes— they are currently renovating their third one right now. They hire group home parents to live in the house with the teens. Garrett and his wife and kids had some of these troubled teens in their home for years.
Every year Release Ministries has a fundraiser dinner. It is next Tuesday the 18th, and they have a great speaker lined up. I went last year and plan to go this year. Release does things outside of the box. They are a local homegrown ministry here in Nebraska, and since I know some of the people involved in it–ike Garrett– and I know they are meeting the needs of kids around us in our own neighborhood, its a no-brainer for us to choose to support it.
If you have even a slight interest in helping this ministry, please consider acting on it. They rely on the support of whoever happens to know of them. If you are around, I’d encourage you to go to the banquet next Tuesday. I’ll see you there.